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Harlon Block Quotes In An Essay

BLOCK, HARLON HENRY (1924–1945). Harlon Henry Block, marine, the first of four sons of Edward Frederick and Ada Belle Block, was born on November 6, 1924, at Yorktown, Texas. After graduating from Weslaco High School, he entered the marines, on February 18, 1943, in San Antonio. He completed basic training in San Diego, California, attended parachute training school, and was assigned to the First Marine Parachute Regiment. As a member of this unit he experienced his first combat duty during the Bougainville campaign. He subsequently appeared in one of the most famous battle photographs ever taken: the raising of the flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima during World War II. After his parachute regiment was disbanded, on February 29, 1944, he was transferred to Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-eighth Marines, Fifth Marine Division. This company landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. Mount Suribachi, the 550-foot-high extinct volcano on the southern end of the island, was assaulted by the Twenty-eighth Marines on February 20. By mid-morning of February 23 they had reached the top of Suribachi and defeated the last Japanese defenders. Six marines raised a small flag to signal their victory to their fellow soldiers below. Later, a second, larger flag (ninety-six by fifty-six inches) was raised. Corporal Block helped with the second flag by stooping and guiding the base of the pole into the volcanic ash while the other five men heaved the flag upward. As the flag rose Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal snapped the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. Corporal Block, however, never saw the famous picture. He was killed in action on March 1, 1945, when his unit advanced in the direction of Nishi Ridge. He was buried in the Fifth Marine Division Cemetery near the base of Mount Suribachi; in January 1949 his body was taken home for private burial in Weslaco. In 1995 Block's body was moved from Weslaco to the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima. He is buried beside the Iwo Jima Memorial on the academy grounds.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Bernard C. Nalty, The United States Marines on Iwo Jima (Washington: U.S. Marine Corps, 1967). Richard F. Newcomb, Iwo Jima (New York: Holt, 1965).

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, David V. Stroud, "Block, Harlon Henry," accessed March 13, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl52.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

"This is no joke! This is real war!"

Anonymous announcer, page 58

An anonymous announcer screams this quotation from the roof of radio station KGU in Honolulu, during the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. The announcement demonstrates the influence of the media on the American people, a major theme in the book, as they were whipped into a patriotic frenzy following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The words "No joke. The real thing" are reiterated by Bradley, repeated for emphasis. The boys who enlisted in the military following this new development in World War II did not yet know what they were getting into, and the American civilians who supported them from the safety of American soil were fed a distorted image of the "real war" by the media.

"It's funny what a picture can do."

Ira Hayes, p. 275

Ira writes this sentence home to his parents at the beginning of the Seventh Bond Tour. He, Rene Gagnon, and Jack Bradley have been flown to Washington, D.C. and are being portrayed to the public as heroes. However, they know that the flag raising is not what made them heroes, and that many others on Iwo Jima showed great heroism that has not been honored in the same way. This rift between reality and what the American people perceive is a theme throughout the book.

"It took everyone on that island and the men on the ships offshore to get the flag up on Suribachi."

John Bradley, p. 285

John Bradley tells this to reporters during an impromptu press conference at the beginning of the Seventh Bond Tour. He, Ira, and Rene are being encouraged to represent themselves as special, as heroes among the Marines on Iwo Jima. However, they refuse, instead insisting that they are no more heroes than anyone else involved in the battle. This distortion of the idea of heroism, especially by the press, is an important theme.

"I am sure that no matter what the government said, Mother would have gone to her grave insisting that was her son Harlon on that photograph."

Maurine Block, page 313

Harlon's sister, Maurine, says this to James Bradley in describing Belle Block's confidence that Harlon was pictured as one of the flag raisers. From the moment she saw the photograph, Belle was able to identify her son, even though for almost two years he was misidentified as Hank Hansen. This ability of a mother to recognize her son among so many Marines all dressed alike strengthens the theme of the importance of mothers that is so prominent throughout the book.

"Your teacher said something about heroes... I want you to always remember something. The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn't come back."

John Bradley, p. 343

John Bradley says these words to his son, James, when James asks him to give a speech about being a hero to his third-grade class. John Bradley does not attend any of the reunions that Dave Severance organizes for the men who served in Easy Company in the 1980s. He claims it is because he would not be able to be himself since he has been so singled out by the press for his role in the photograph, but James Bradley believes it is really because he doesn't feel like a hero at all.

"Blessed Mother help us."

John Bradley, p. 308

John Bradley mutters these words after saying his prayers aloud with his wife, Betty, before bed. When she asks him why he includes them at the end of his prayers under his breath, he explains, "It's something I said on Iwo." These are the words that are engraved on his tombstone in the Queen of Peace Cemetery. He learned them from his mother, and they emphasize her importance in his life as well as the importance of religion to him throughout the battle and throughout the rest of his life.

"By being polite to each other we both damn near missed the scene. I swung my camera around and held it until I could guess that this was the peak of the action, and shot."

Joe Rosenthal, p. 211

This is how Rosenthal describes the moment in which he captured the raising of the replacement flag on the top of Mount Suribachi on film. He and Bill Genaust, another photographer, did not think they were capturing anything special. Rosenthal didn't have a chance to look in his viewfinder when he took the picture, so he had no idea how it turned out. However, it would end up being the most reproduced photograph of all time, and changing his life and the lives of those who raised the flag.

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan... With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God!"

Franklin Roosevelt, page 58

The president makes a six-and-a-half minute speech on the radio the day after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, announcing the inauguration of the United States' involvement in World War II. Throughout Bradley's account of the events in the story, Roosevelt stands for a belief in one's country and a determination to defend it. He appears a few times, heralding hope and demonstrating his awe at the bravery of the Marines.

"From a guy who is proud he's a Marine and in his country's service."

Ira Hayes, p. 77

This is how Ira signs one of his early letters home from San Diego to his family. It demonstrates the tension between boyhood and manhood that is a common theme in the book. It also reveals Ira's pride in his position, with no hint of the tragedy that will befall him because of his traumatizing experiences in battle.

"I know my boy."

Belle Block, p. 221

This is what Belle Block says when she first sees the famous photograph of the flag raising published in the newspaper. She recognizes Harlon, her son, from behind, even though he is dressed like any other Marine. The theme of mothers, which is important throughout the book, is personified in Belle Block, who insists that it is Harlon in the picture until her suspicions are confirmed when Ira tells Ed, her estranged husband, the truth.

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